Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baking Event: Christmas Cookies with Friends

Oh the grand plans we had for this event!  My friends and I were going to get ahead on our holiday baking.  It was to be a blitz of flour, sugar and salt.

I bought tons of ingredients, pulled out all of my sprinkles and made a pot of white bean chicken chili to bolster my friends after a long day at their real jobs.  

How did my first baking event go?  Well it wasn't a bake-tastrophe, but we didn't accomplish nearly what I thought we would. My three friends and I ate dinner together, talked all about the cookies we love and ended up with only 2 hours to actually mix and bake.  How did we think we could do this on a weeknight?   

Next year (yes, we've already decided to make it a tradition) we are going to pick at Saturday in November and really get to it.

The funny thing is that the one cookie we did mix and bake were so delicious that we ate them all.  The green "Spritz" trees were the best I've ever tasted. We mixed a double batch of this Almond Spritz recipe from Better Homes and Garden (add green food coloring to the dough) and used an electric cookie press, which was finicky, but effective, to press them out.

We had to press the button on the electric Spritz for just the right amount of time (experiment) to get a perfect cookie.  Once we mastered the timing, it was a breeze and we easily spritzed and baked 150 cookies.  Then we divided by 3 and packaged them in freezer Ziploc bags.  Then Dan and I ate or gave away most of our allotment.  These were so good I will make them again in the next week or so.

We also made to two batches of dough that we personalized with a variety of mix-ins.  The recipe can be made and frozen, then sliced and baked later.  Our base was Martha Stewart's basic vanilla dough.  The first batch was vanilla dough, so I added unsweetened coconut, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  I shaped the dough into a log and rolled it in large sugar crystals. Then I wrapped the log in waxed paper, slide it into a freezer bag and labeled it with the instructions (Slice and Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 min.)  I can't wait to try them!

Our second batch of this dough we followed the direction in the recipe to customize it and make chocolate dough.  I had Valrhona cocoa powder on hand and we knew that it would make the very best chocolatey base. I had a lot of choices, but settled on white chocolate chips.  These cookies should taste delicious - plus a chocolate cookie will add some variety the cookie plate. Yum.

So it is December 3 and I have 2 frozen doughs and a lot of Gingerbread men. Not nearly enough for all of the guests I am having over this season.  I'd been preheat the oven and get back to work!

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